Kumbha Mela

Kumbh Fair
The Largest Gathering Of People For A Spiritual Purpose In The World


Introduction

The largest religious gathering on earth; around 70 million people (followers of hinduism) from around the world participated in kumbh mela at one of the hindu holy city prayag (india)

Mythology

Mythological legends say that at the beginning of creation, all the gods were under a curse that made them weak and cowardly. Brahma, the creator god, advised them to retrieve the kumbh (water pot) containing the nectar of immortality (amrit). The gods sought help from the demons, and together they churned the primordial ocean to bring up the nectar.

As dhanwantari, the divine healer, appeared with the “kumbh” containing nectar in his palms, a great fight ensued between the gods and demons to wrest the pitcher. During the fierce battle in thesky, a few drops of nectar fell in four different places: prayag (allahabad), haridwar, nasik and ujjain. Since then, when the planets align in the same position, pilgrims and devotees converge to commemorate this divine event. Kumbh mela takes place every three years in rotation in the four sacred places. Therefore kumbh mela at allahabad, the most holy of these fairs, only takes place every twelfth year. The ardh kumbh mela takes place in the sixth year between kumbh melas.

In the four holy places kumbh mela takes place at an interval of twelve years coinciding with one round of jupiter through the zodiac. In allahabad it takes place with jupiter in vrishabh (taurus) while the sun enters makara (capricorn) coinciding with the northerly course of the sun. The major bath takes place when the moon too enters makara

The legend

Prayag snan or bathing in the confluence of the river ganges and jamuna is of great importance. It is believed that it washes away all the sins and the cycle of rebirth and death ends as the soul becomes one with god almighty.

Kumbh fair in allahabad — this unique event blends religious and cultural features alike. With the entire atmosphere saturated with chiming bells, incense and flower fragrance, vedic hymns, mantras, beating of drums on horses, camels, and elephants during the processions of naga (naked) sadhus from different akhadas (orders) in their gold and silver chariots being pulled by devotees, as they show their strength and skills — pure enchantment for the soul.

 

Kumbh fair is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the lucky ones. The crowd and confusion of buyers and sellers, the native groups in every imaginable costume; some shine in cloths of gold, surrounded by followers splendidly arranged, others are less expensively but picturesquely dressed, and many are half or full naked or wildly clad. The melange of priests, soldiers, religious mendicants, half beggars-half bandits, with a smattering of europeans, exhibit all together an exotic display — unique in all the world

To watch the kumbh mela processions is to witness the march of the ages. As the holy saints pass by on their various and sundry conveyances — elephants, horses, palanquins, chariots, cars, and camels — they are continually transmitting waves of powerful shakti (energy) to all the people who witness this awe-inspiring and most auspicious event. Devotees are overwhelmed by the palpable spiritual vibrations that pervade the entire atmosphere.

While the parade of saints marches towards the ganges river, the sounds baffle all description — the shout and cries of ash-smeared sadhus mingle with the neighing of horses, trumpeting of elephants, grunting of camels, bellowing of bulls. Gongs and drums beat, trumpets blare, conch shells blow and bells ring. In the midst of this cacophony, musicians and dancers perform.

The basic point of the kumbh mela is for pilgrims to bathe at certain sacred spots on certain auspicious days. A large tented city is erected and pilgrims stay at tents owned by pandas (religious and spiritual guides) and at various ashrams. Others will just camp on the ground or turn up for the actual bathing day. Some of these bathing days are designated “royal,” and it is on these days that the naga sadhus (naked mendicants) parade and bathe. On other days there will still be people bathing and other events and random processions.

The observance of kumbha mela is based upon the following story: thousands of years ago, perhaps in the vedic period, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in obtaining amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the milky ocean, and to share this equally. However, when the kumbha (pot) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with the pot and were chased by the gods. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the possession of this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell on to four places: prayag, haridwar, ujjain and nasik. Thus, kumbha mela is observed at these four locations where the nectar fell.

Kumbha mela is attended by millions of people on a single day. A ritual bath at a predetermined time and place is the major event of this festival. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men/women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbha mela (especially the maha kumbha mela) is the most sacred of all the hindu pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men/women (monks, saints, sadhus) grace the occasion by their presence. The suspiciousness of kumbha mela is in part attributed to the gathering of thousands of holy men/women at one place on earth

According to astrologers, the ‘kumbh fair’ takes place when the planet jupiter enters aquarius and the sun enters aries.

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